Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

VTILUA3I  VOX  HOIBQLDT.                   397
any epoch^ sought out these ideas,  connected  them,
with Hs own views and thoughts, and thxts endeavoured
to act -with the universal spirit of progress.
It was Ms firm conviction thai a people could only
be strengthened and elevated by free institutions*
He would have realized this conviction in the manner
most consonant to Ms feelings, "had pot his practical
mind prevented him. He therefore remained true to
Ms principles, but studied more nearly the most
urgent wants of the nation and the ruling tendencies
of the age^ which were directed to constitutional life,
and the commingling of the people -with the affairs of
the state. That this was the ruling tendency of the
was shown by the opinions of his youthful and,
intelligent contemporaries ; that it was the wish, of the
great majority, which at that time showed little
inclination to exercise its voice in piiblie affairs, was-
proved by the happy results which every agitation of
the people from its centuries-long apathy had -worked
in its character.
And finally, lie saw that this practical view would
go hand in hand with his ideal one. The German
nation is so unused to political independent action,
that it can only be accustomed to it by, as it were^
forcing it to occupy itself with practical interests.
The universal interest is still the most exciting, It
awaked the practical sense most easily., and step "by
step the power is formed of dispensing with the direct-
ing tutelage of the state. And the Germans need a
strengthening of their sense for the common interest
in a national point of view3 or they will run the risk
of being again oppressed by Romans or Cossacks at
the next opportunity,
Humboldt asked nothing from a Prussian coxtsii-
tutioa which was impossible under the circumstances^
He wished to found the commencement of constitu-
tional life, and. pave the way for further privileges
which might easily "be added. He did not wish
Prussia to make a         leap forwards* but to advance